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October 15, 2012

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Poznan, Poland
Stephen Downes, Flickr, October 15, 2012.

After visiting Potsdam I took a few days and the train to Poznan, Poland. I discovered a city that was grey and gritty - it was, after all, October, coal-burning time - but also filled with colour and life, with one of the greatest hidden treasures - a city downtown-sized citadel park with war graves, exhibits, fortress walls and a vast expanse of park and artwork, a central square with unique brightly coloured houses, an incredible (abandoned?) factory (pictured, above) and some of the best fortress and castle architecture around. I set the camera to 3200 to capture as much depth as I could in the grey October sky and took and processed 180 HDRs, of which I've presented here the best 50. Here's the slide show. Enjoy.

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Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, October 15, 2012.

There's a reason I still have an email newsletter and why I spend so much time and attention on email and the website and the rest, and not so much on my Twitter and Facebook channels. It's because these are my promary delivery channels. If, for example, I want a lot of people to see my photos, I put them in the email newsletter. And where Twitter, Facebook and Google+ combined would produce 167 views (this is an actual number), putting it into the newsletter creates 830 views (that's another actual number). Alexis Madrigal writes, "this vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs. I call it Dark Social. It shows up variously in programs as 'direct' or 'typed/bookmarked' traffic, which implies to many site owners that you actually have a bookmark or typed in www.theatlantic.com into your browser. But that's not actually what's happening a lot of the time. Most of the time, someone Gchatted someone a link, or it came in on a big email distribution list, or your dad sent it to you."

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Why The Future Of Software And Apps Is Serverless
Ken Fromm, ReadWriteCloud, October 15, 2012.

This is a challenging trend and it takes a bit of thinking to understand how it would work and what the implications are. In a sentence: "Cloud apps are moving into a serverless world." What this means is that these apps will be stored on, and run on, individual devices - your computer, your phone, whatever. But more: "The monolithic application built on Ruby on Rails, Python and Django, or other Web app frameworks is giving way to a distributed system spread across a number of applications, processes and data stores. It’s no longer about building a 'Web app.' It’s about building a distributed system of loosely coupled components in the cloud." That doesn't mean there are no servers - rather, it means that servers are simply sources of data - JSON objects, for example - that are manipulated by these distributed apps. (It's what I wanted for PLE - but oh my, try getting people raised on J2EE to comprehend that).

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Left Shocked, Amazed, Wondering, & Hopeful By Blackboard, Inc.
Melissa Stange , Behind The Scenes Technology, October 15, 2012.

Michael Chasen is stepping down as CEO of Blackboard and will be replaced by Jay Bhatt, president and chief executive officer of Progress Software who has a background as a former Chief Financial Officer and M&A specialist. This post has good coverage and links to a number of additional resources, including commentary by Henderson, Chasen, and others. Also, from Gilfus: "With turmoil at Sakai,  continued scaling concerns with Moodle, and challenges with Instructure’s Canvas data security and FERPA compliancy, whats next for academic software systems??? Can new open source plays like Adrenna leveraging drupal play a role in the next steps for the industry?"

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Democratizing Higher Education
Sebastian Thrun, Sloan-C, October 15, 2012.

Thanks to Eileen Pratt, who sent me this link to a video recording Sebastian Thurn's talk about MOOCs on October 11, 2012.

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ACTA: The Ethical Analysis of a Failure and Its Lessons
Luciano Floridi, European Centre for International Political Economy, October 15, 2012.

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I don't exactly agree with this analysis of the failure of ACTA, the "anti-counterfeiting trade agreement", but I'm quite interested in the article because it analyzes its failure on moral and ethical grounds. Some aspects of the agreement are clearly problematic: its attack on free expression, its erosion of privacy. But according to the author, the process carries no ethical implications. So it's OK that it was negotiated in secret, without public consultation, outside existing international bodies. Here's the moral principle at work here: "agreements should be evaluated, ethically, for what they are, rather than for the alleged reasons why they are being proposed." Really? Is this true? I don't think this is a position that can be sustained - I think that the context of a policy and the intent behind it are as important, ewthiclly, as the content of the proposal itself. After all, "walk forward in a straight line" is ethically harmless, but when it's being used to march people off a cliff, it is ethically challenged. Via Michael Geist.

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Thank you, open access movement!
Heather Morrison, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, October 15, 2012.

Heather Morrison documents the dramatic growth of open access. "Highlighted this month is the dramatic growth of OpenDOAR, more than doubling from just over 800 repositories in 2006 to over 2,200 in 2012, representing substantial and impressive growth of the necessary infrastructure for open access archives." One day, other MOOCs will 'discover' that they can set up MOOCs with access to open resources, thereby creating a distributed MOOC. Via Michael Geist.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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